Local Reaction to Internet Blackout

University of Scranton pre-med student Vivienne Meljan planned to use Wikipedia Wednesday to help her with her physics homework, but instead saw a blacked-out page.

The online encyclopedia was one of the major sites participating in a blackout to protest anti-piracy legislation.

Its opponents said the proposed law would hinder sites such as Wikipedia and Youtube that take information from many different sources.

“As a student, and a pre-med, I use Youtube all the time for clips on science or lectures, or just to listen to music, so it would be very difficult, make things kind of boring online,” Meljan said.

The “Stop Online Piracy Act”, or SOPA as it’s called, will go before Congress soon. Internet users who visited Wikipedia could not search for the information they wanted, but could look up a way to contact their members of Congress.

“I can’t tell you how many times a day I go on to look something up.  It’s definitely great, sends the message out. Whether or not it will actually have an effect on the legislation, I don’t know,” said Doug Zaruta, a medical student in Scranton.

“With this legislation, it kind of hinders competition and free speech. Well, at least that’s what I read. That’s what our country is founded on. No, I don’t agree with it,” added another student, Igor Mahlkin.

Basically, SOPA would crack down on websites that make it easy to illegally download or trade copyrighted material on the world wide web.

Computer expert Joseph Mezzuca said the proposal is far from censorship, but you would notice a difference when you surf.

“Some of the information that’s readily available to people like myself who need it. We’re going to have a harder time finding things or we’re going to have to pay for it, and that’s going to hinder a lot of research that’s done on the internet now,” Mezzuca said.

The internet blackout has already made an impact locally, Representative Tim Holden was a co-sponsor of SOPA and today decided to remove his name from the legislation.

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